While 3D printing enables rapid prototyping for product designers—emphasis on “rapid”—the production method’s uptake by the clothing industry has been slow. But it seems it will happen, eventually; a few times a year another 3D-printed clothing story comes over the wire (see list at bottom), and the latest concerns Danit Peleg, a recent graduate from Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art.
Peleg designed and printed up a five-piece fashion collection for her degree project, starting last year with a crash course in 3D printing. After experimenting with different affordable printers from Makerbot, Pursa and Witbox (i.e. not the high-end Objets that established designers like Iris van Herpen have access to), Peleg tried and rejected PLA, the typical go-to material. “[It’s] a hard and breakable material,” she writes. “I was not getting very far because the material is inflexible, which is the key property of a ‘real’ textile.”
The breakthrough came when I was introduced to FilaFlex, which is a new kind of filament; it’s strong, yet very flexible. Using FilaFlex and the Witbox printer, I finally was able to print my red jacket.
Though it was great to finally be able to print this flexible jacket, I also wanted to see how I could create more elaborate textiles for the rest of the collection.
Now that I found the right material, I started experimenting with different types of patterns. I found Andreas Bastian‘s Mesostructured Cellular Materials and by combining his incredible structures (and new ones I created with the same approach) and the flexible materials, I could create lace-like textiles that I could work with — just like cloth.
When the history of 3D-printed clothing is written next century, Peleg’s pieces will surely seem primitive; but what’s interesting about them in 2015 is that she’s not just creating geometric lattices to emulate lace, but is cribbing Bastian’s structural work (available on Thingiverse) to make her pieces bounce and flow.
Peleg is not 3D-printing clothes just for the sake of being different, and she’s not working alone in a lab; instead she’s investigating materials, and building on the work of others in the community, in an effort to advance the technology to the next level. And extra points, in our eyes, for doing the work on relatively entry-level machines.